Cell-cell communication by quorum sensing and dimension-reduction

Johannes Müller, Christina Kuttler, Burkard A. Hense, Michael Rothballer, Anton Hartmann

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86 Scopus citations


Several bacterial taxa change their behavior if the population density exceeds a certain threshold. This phenomenon is the consequence of a communication system between the bacteria and is called quorum sensing (QS). Up to now, this phenomenon is mostly modeled at population level. However, new experimental techniques allow for single cell analysis. We introduce a modeling approach for the description of this QS system, including a discussion of the regulatory network and its bistable behavior. Based on this single-cell model we develop and analyze a spatially structured model for a cell population. Special attention is given to the scaling behavior w.r.t. the cell size (leading to an approximation theorem for stationary solutions) and its consequences for the interpretation of cell communication (QS versus diffusion sensing). Concluding, we apply the modeling approach to spatially structured experimental data.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)672-702
Number of pages31
JournalJournal of Mathematical Biology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2006


  • Bistability Dimension reduction
  • Partial differential equation
  • Quorum sensing
  • Single cell analysis


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